Venice, Italy: Falling in Love Has Never Been So Easy

A gondola-centric perspective of Venice's many canals  (Corbis)

Venice is the city of canals, stunning Gothic palaces, intimate restaurants, and intrigue. Whether slipping along the canals on gondolas, strolling the labyrinth of meandering alleyways, or sipping fresh peach juice Bellinis to the mellifluous sounds of a live orchestra, there's plenty of ways to experience amore Italian-style in this magical city.

Once the economic pulse of Europe, Venice is replete with many cultural and historical activities and treasures. In fact, there are few more memorable things than a cruise along the Grand Canal, disembarking among the cooing pigeons at St. Mark's Square. Include a jaunt to the Clock Tower, a stopover at Doges' Palace, and a trip to the Bridge of Sighs. And the island of Murano and its famous Venetian glass should be notched on everybody's must-see list.

The gondola is also ideal to ply the back canals of this old-world city. Incredibly costly but well worth the price, the gondola ride ensures a classic way to experience the beauty of Venice. Float along many of the 150 canals and under its 409 bridges—you'll meet Venice up close while a live musician serenades. For a less expensive yet more practical way to get around, hop a vaporetto (water taxi) to get more quickly from A to B.

To truly fall under Venice's captivating spell, top off your day with a bottle of Chianti and a pasta dinner for two. La Cusina (+39.41.521.3785) offers a highly inventive Italian menu with a swoon-worthy view of the Grand Canal. For Venetian seafood at its best, Ristorante Corte Sconta (+39.41.522.7024) is a local favorite with a lovely romantic backdrop.

Stay indoors in inclement weather or dine al fresco under a canopy of grapevines on a beautiful, balmy night. After dinner, saunter over to Harry's Bar (+39.41.528.5777), just a few steps from the gondola pier outside St. Mark's Basilica, where you'll find elegant décor, sumptuous cocktails, and ample opportunity to people watch.

With so much to offer the visitors who flock to its canals and tight streets every year, Venice has been known to get crowded in high season. So those looking for a secluded hotel away from it all (albeit with a high price tag) should seek out Hotel Cipriani. Hidden away on the tiny island of Giudecca, the stunning property is considered one of the most luxurious in the world. The tranquil haven offers verdant gardens, an outdoor heated pool, and the newly built Casanova Spa.

For something a little more affordable but equally romantic, book a room with a view at the Metropole. Thoughtful little touches like the velvet-lined salon, antiques from the owner's private collection, and a sumptuous breakfast buffet are what make this hotel the kind of romantic gem that draws patrons by the droves.

If and when you should leave your hotel room (and it is highly recommended that you do), the most exciting part of Venice can be simply wandering the never-ending maze of alleys and stumbling upon hidden, tucked-away spots. There are campos (squares) seemingly around every turn, where you can sit and chat with the locals. So when in doubt, just toss the tourist map and get lost in the city—and in each other.

Published: 13 Jun 2005 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Venice

$156-$190
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#1
Canal Grande Hotel Venice
$274-$304
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#2
Antiche Figure Hotel Venice
$125-$163
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#3
Best Western Ala Hotel Venice
$316-$547
Average/night*
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#4
Starhotels Splendid Venice

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